Twenty-one years ago I heard four words that upended my life:
“I want a divorce.”
I knew my husband and I were not doing well, but I thought my pleading prayers would be answered and all would work out fine. We had a baby after all! There was no way I was going to become a single parent.
But despite my prayers, things didn’t work out. I did become a single parent. And it was, by far, the most trying season of my life.
One cold, rainy night, I arrived home from work to an apartment I was renting where nothing was really mine. I sat down on the couch in the dark, my 13-month-old asleep on my chest, and wondered what we were going to eat for dinner. I cried out to God through tears. “God, I don’t know what I am going to feed my child.”
As I finished saying the word “child,” the phone rang. It startled me. Finally, by the fifth ring, I decided to answer. On the other end of the line I heard a friendly voice:
“Hey Anna! I know we just met last week, but I was wondering if you would want to come to dinner tonight? I have fajitas and lime chips.”
I was blown away. My prayer had been answered so quickly that I was speechless! After taking a minute to compose myself, I grabbed my keys and went.
That night at dinner — with this person that I barely knew — I mentioned that I was going through a challenging time in my life. I told her that up to that point, I hadn’t picked up a Bible and didn’t really know any verses, but I wanted one that would help get me through. She looked at me and said, “Why don’t you try Isaiah 43?”
That was it. She didn’t go get her Bible. She didn’t preach to me the rest of the night. She simply offered it as a suggestion. Little did I know that my life was about to change.
The next morning, I woke up and decided that when I got home from work that day, I would check out that scripture. After my shower, just like I did every day, I grabbed a little “Encouraging Words” spiral bound booklet that I had, flipped to the next page and read…ready for this?
God spoke again! He placed the very verse that the woman had mentioned the night before right in front of me. I could barely read through my tears.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
When I got to work that morning, I went to each classroom to tell my teacher friends that God spoke to me!
I quickly learned the power of scripture and how close God is to us. The worst season of my life was becoming the most transformative, and I started to feel peace like I never had before. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a horrible time. I cried almost every day. But I also grew closer and closer to Christ every day, and my life started to change.
I found comfort in Isaiah. He became a friend to me. I also found comfort in the Psalms.
“God is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” -Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
God also spoke to me through Philippians…
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. -Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV)
“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy….Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander…. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you….Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do…. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:23-24, 31-32 and 5:1 (NLT)
Do you see what’s happening here? I could go on and on with examples of how God spoke to me through the Bible. We have the richest resource right at our fingertips. We put in a tiny bit of effort with a humble, hurting heart, and God shows his power through our weakness, just as He says He will:
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take [my difficulties] away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That is why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT, emphasis mine)
Unfortunately, some of the difficulties of divorce never go away, especially if you have children. I still have to share my daughter in a way that I never dreamed I would. I’ve missed out on a lot of time with her and that isn’t going to change. But on a positive note, divorce has made it so I hardly ever take the time I do have with her, or my other children, for granted.
Although it was an incredibly difficult time for me, ultimately, divorce brought me LIFE. I can honestly say I’m so grateful for the pain. It brought me to my knees. I was given a new story to tell to bring attention and glory to God. It definitely didn’t happen overnight. If you’ve been through any type of grief, you know that there are stages that you go through — denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
When we finally come to accept our situation, through God’s grace we can find contentment and peace in any and all circumstances.
If you’ve experienced divorce in your life…
You may be feeling confused and isolated and have questions about things you’ve never faced before. Consider meeting with others to help you face those challenges and move toward rebuilding your life. Small Groups are a safe place to journey through your trials and explore your questions as you overcome your most difficult challenges.
If you’ve completed your journey to acceptance…
Consider helping others through their difficult time. Offer the gift of friendship like that woman did for me, and reach out to someone who may need encouragement. Her kindness changed my life.
No matter where you are on your journey…
Remember God. Watch for His presence. Pay attention to the ways He is working in your life through the Bible and through other people. Spend time with people who understand what you’re going through and learn from them. And when you’re ready, help others on their own journey to peace and contentment.
If you’re still reeling from the effects of divorce, there is support available. Reach out here if you need help, and remember—God speaks through the pages of scripture and through people in your path. Take heart. Dig in. He can and He will bring LIFE from divorce.